William Hague: 'No repatriation of powers from EU'

There is no "immediate prospect" of repatriating powers from the European Union (EU), William Hague said today.

The Foreign Secretary insisted he had "not gone soft and will never go soft on Europe".

However he said the Government's priority had to be ensuring the eurozone was stabilised without damaging Britain's interests.

"The repatriation of powers, which is something I support by the way, is not an immediate prospect because no countries are proposing widespread treaty change," Mr Hague told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

"That may change, but at the moment, that is not what they are proposing...

"Britain's opportunity to these kinds of issues comes if there is a major change in the European treaties and the other nations need our cooperation in order to do that."

He went on: "Our priority is for the eurozone to be stabilised and at the same time to protect the British national interest."

Chancellor George Osborne warned eurozone leaders yesterday that they needed to take "impressive" action to get a grip on the crisis wracking the global economy.

The EU summit in Brussels next weekend will be a crucial moment in finding a "solution" to the problems, he said.

Speaking after a meeting of G20 finance ministers, Mr Osborne also indicated that Britain would be open to providing more money to the International Monetary Fund - but not if it was only used to prop up the struggling single currency area.

The eurozone has set up a European financial stability facility (EFSF) worth 440 billion euro (£384 billion).

However many economists believe a fund of around two trillion euro (£1.75 trillion) will be needed fully to reassure anxious investors that banks would survive defaults by heavily indebted countries such as Greece and Italy.

Final decisions are not likely to be taken until the main G20 meeting in Cannes next month.

However, there are hopes that the EU summit on October 23 will make significant progress on expanding the EFSF, as well as hammering out plans for a major write-down of Greek debt and a re-capitalisation of weaker banks.

Source: PA